24th June – Another day of Indian Democracy

Body of Bishwajit Bora, Putul Medhi, Charan Bordoloi, Hiranya Baruah and Hemen Nath

By– Priyanuj Gohain | Date– June 24, 2011

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It has exactly been 17 years today since a day of cruelty by the Indian State Machine led one of the dirtiest human right violations in the country. The sufferers were, as countless other times, from the North Eastern state of Assam where human right violation, rapes and killings of innocents are just a game for state forces as accused my most people of the region, with immunity from the draconian Armed Forces (Special Power) Act.

Early morning of 24 June, 1994 a group of CRPF and SULFA men had captured seven Assamese youth from Rajbari, Nagaon. All of them were either cadres of ULFA or had links with the outfit. However when arrested, they were unarmed and had no weapons with them, as confirmed by reports. They were Subarna Konwar, Pradip Baruah, Bishwajit Bora of Raidongia Gaon, Putul Medhi of Roha, Charan Bordoloi of Dolongghat, Hiranya Baruah of Chakalaghat and Hemen Nath of Hatichung (all from Nagaon District).

On being arrested, they were all shooted as well as beaten severely by the CRPF Jawans and five of them, barring Pradip Baruah and Subarna Konwar, died on spot due to merciless act. Pradip and Subarna were then made to carry the dead bodies of their friends and load them into a army vehicle. Post this all were taken away to an unknown destination. The bullet-ridden dead bodies of the five youths were handed over to the Nagaon Police Station at the evening of the same day.

Next day morning the Police informed three families of the dead to identify the dead bodies, but refused to hand over the bodies to the family members. Two of the bodies were not even identified by their family members. Instead the Police burned down the five dead bodies of the youth with motor tyres on the road, without even informing the family members. All human rights regulations, religious or traditional rules of the society were violated and the authorities just ignored the issue. The whereabouts of Pradip Baruah and Subarna Konwar, on the other hand remained in mystery.

The local people and various democratic organizations condemned the inhuman killing and the way the dead bodies were burnt down. A year later, the family members of Pradip and Subarna started a hunger strike in front of the Office of the district Magistrate of Nagaon. The state Police tortured the family members and arrested them. However, they continued the hunger strike up to three more days and 13 other democratic organization of the district offered support to the justice seeking family members and joined them. Leader of opposition and ex-Chief Minister, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta too this as an opportunity and requested the family members to stop hunger strike, assuring them to bring the matter to the higher authority and ensure Justice. Needless to mention that the families, like hundreds of others in the state, have never seen the face of justice till date.

It is true that insurgents such as the ULFA cadres are ought to be punished per law when arrested. But the way the dead bodies of the youth were burnt with tyres without even letting their mothers and family have a last look at their son or relative was certainly in-human and cruel. Such acts did nothing more than more encourage more youth to get revengeful and give birth to newer bloodshed across the decade.

With the ULFA- Government of India talks now just around the corner, the pro-talk leaders of the ULFA are seen all over the state trying to reconcile and pleading forgives for their mistakes. It is a call to the pro-talk leaders that it is not just important to reconcile with the families of victims who suffered from their “mistakes” or terror. The also need to remember about the victims and families of those like the ones killed in the 24 June incident in Nagaon, and try and bring justice to them through the demands in the lateral talks.

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